Review: When Men Become Gods

When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought BackWhen Men Become Gods
by Stephen Singular

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Men Become Gods / 978-0-312-37248-4

The Warren Jeffs' FLDS cult has been a subject of great interest to me lately, and although there are many wonderful ex-member accounts out there (such as "Escape" and "Stolen Innocence"), I've been frustrated until now by the lack of a good, over-arching narrative for the FLDS cult as a whole and the Warren Jeffs' branch specifically. I'd read "Under the Banner of Heaven" earlier in the year, but had been slightly put off by the author's tendency to leap back and forth through the centuries between each chapter, as a narrative technique.

"When Men Become Gods", then, was a very welcome addition to my library. Here was the over-arching narrative of the Warren Jeffs' branch that I'd been looking for - after a brief and to-the-point history of the FLDS, the book begins with Warren Jeffs' childhood, chronicles his rise through the ranks, his abuses of his cult members, the federal search for him, and his sudden and unexpected capture and subsequent trial.

Author Singular is to be commended for providing such a lucid, clear narrative to this difficult and labyrinthine subject; the all the people and places discussed here are done so in such a clear and vivid manner that the reader is able to follow along easily (not an easy thing to do with the complex family trees of the FLDS members!). Singular also brings a great deal of passion to his subject, especially when he provides insight from the police and activists that worked so long and so hard to track Jeffs down and bring him to justice, while trying to protect the abused members.

Indeed, as a narrative for this saga, this book does a superb job of presenting the overall story, and this book would serve as a great introduction to anyone interested in the recent history of the FLDS, or to someone who has read the survivor stories and would like an over-arching account to organize what they have learned. The book is not flawless, though, and I do recommend supplementing your reading with "Escape" or "Stolen Innocence" or both. Indeed, the author of "Stolen Innocence" features heavily in "When Men Become Gods", for it was her testimony that convicted Warren Jeffs at last, and Singular does a fair job of presenting her story, but it is my belief that her biography contains many key points that Singular did not include here, for whatever reason, including the sheer depth of pain and horror she survived as a child.

I would recommend this book as a great introduction or supplemental reading material on the subject.

~ Ana Mardoll

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